What would happen if we did away with labels? This morning I was teaching and we were talking about an article that I had assigned to read, and we were talking about people being happy being part of a group. As we were talking about this, the concept of labels came up.
Every single person is labeled. Every single student comes with a label. ADHD, SPD, ODD, HAL, gifted, middle of the road, athletes, basketball player, drama kid, and the list goes on. Teachers are guilty of looking at their roster in August and seeing “that student”. I dreaded faculty meetings where I had to hear about how so and so had “that kid” again. All I could ever think was, “maybe if you would have put in a little extra effort into seeing what was inside, you would have had some better luck.”
Just me who does that? No, I know better. There are thousands of teachers out there who go the extra little bit and get to know their kids, and I mean really get to know them. Get past what the outer cover looks like. Once teachers are willing to do this, our classrooms improve drastically.
However, teachers are willing to do this and we have administrators that do not want us to. We have great teachers who know how successful they can be and how successful their students can be, but principals who want to see the traditional “sit and get”.
For all that talk about 21st Century Learning, Cooperative Learning, and all the other new buzzwords; they do not really understand that all of that means nothing if students never have a meaningful connection.
Think about it. Go back to high school and middle school, well not really, middle school was awful. In your mind, think about the teachers that really made a difference in your world. They knew who you were, they talked to you, and it was about more than just English. They could talk to you about real world things and you listened. They gave you a voice as a person. Funny how that made all the difference in the world.
Often times, it was this same teacher who believed in you more than you believed in yourself. That teacher fought for you when you wouldn’t fight for yourself. Now, it is these teachers who are being forced out of our high school, or who are just leaving. They don’t label kids, they want them all to be great. In small, rural America we run into a problem. Only the “good” or certain kids are allowed to be great. We have to have a division of class. It is that division that is causing students to quit on themselves. Teachers can’t let that happen.
Labels. I have one. I am the teacher without a filter. I am the teacher who believes in all of my kids. If we want to have a future in education, this needs to be the direction was are all headed. We all need to believe and really believe, not just say we do.